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The Importance of a Bespoke Ventilation System in Dental Surgeries

The Importance of a Bespoke Ventilation System in Dental Surgeries

Ventilation is essential in any building. Fresh air coming into a room will remove contaminants, helping it remain a healthy place to be. For most buildings, the ventilation can be as simple as openable windows. In healthcare facilities such as a dentist surgery, mechanical ventilation is required.

Bespoke mechanical ventilation

When choosing mechanical ventilation, there is a range of options, including ductwork and ceiling grills. Alternatively, a wall or window-mounted fan might be appropriate, depending on the design of the facilities. Consequently, a bespoke ventilation system is required for any building that enjoys a high occupancy rate, such as a dentist surgery. Where open windows are not enough, the architecture of the building will dictate the design of the ventilation.

Furthermore, unlike most workplaces, a dentist surgery is subject to more stringent legal requirements when providing ventilation. These requirements are laid out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992) and Approved Document F in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Research by the Scottish Dental Organisation suggests that ventilation in dental practices may not even meet the current legislation or guidance.

Therefore, dentist practices may need the help of specialist in air ventilation to ensure their facilities come up to code. An expert engineer will be able to offer bespoke suggestions to bring practice in line with the law.

The impact of COVID

With the current focus on air circulation and safety and the continued difficulties posed by COVID-19, it seems more urgent than ever that dental surgeries address ventilation issues. The primary transmission of the virus is through respiratory droplets. Dental treatments involving high-speed drilling or ultrasound are thought to increase the amount and density of particles in the air, making air recycling even more necessary.

While a patient is not in danger from their own secretions, and dental staff are in full PPE, there is a chance for residual aerosols to hang in the air. There is a fallow time, an amount of time after a procedure when the air needs to be changed. The higher the air change in a room, the shorter the time the dentist needs to wait before seeing another patient.

This Post Aerosol Generating Procedure Fallow Time (PAFPFT) is a statutory requirement and can severely impact the number of patients a dentist can see in a day. Even if a dentist commits to clean a room of splatter, they would still need to wait 10 minutes after the Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP) before beginning the cleaning process.

Consequently, an air ventilation system specifically designed for a dentist would offer a good return on the investment. The relationship between air changes and clearance time is calculated using a ventilation flow equation. Those with appropriate mitigation methods will experience shorter delays between patients. While more research is being done to understand AGP and patients’ safety, the current understanding supports the need for a bespoke ventilation system.

The sort of technologies that work

There are many options available to the dental practice to improve the air ventilation flow in a practice. There could be the introduction of technologies such as local extract ventilation (LEV) or local recirculating air devices. The effectiveness of such technology depends mostly on the size of the room and its age.

However, as the noise level from such equipment can be prohibitive, more thought might be needed to make it more acceptable in a healthcare setting. While recirculating units are useful, they are loud, so devices using HEPA filtration and UVA may be more effective.

If you would like to discuss how Transcool Systems can support you in the design of your bespoke system, contact us today.